Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You know that you are old when you realize that things that we use all the time now weren’t even invented when you were a child. It doesn’t help your depression over things like that while we are living through a technological revolution where new devices are being invented every day. We can’t even keep up with the new and more useful phones being offered to us every three months.
I remember as a child that even someone that was 10 years old did not know what a television was. Only in the late 1940’s were there a TV available in every home. When I was a child, computers were a monster found only in large corporations. If I had a research project to do, we had to use our encyclopedias and find pictures by cutting them out of magazines. No Google search for us. We really had to find information in a sea of books.
Now I get to find out that in 1956, the year I was born, that frozen foods was celebrated. Really? I’m so old that something as easy as throwing some corn in the freezer was a major uncharted event? Yes, that was the year that Clarence Birdseye who pioneered frozen food into a household word died. He was born in Brooklyn , NY and was a naturalist working in Northern Canada. He noticed that the fish he caught froze almost instantly in the frigid air.
He noticed that when cooked even weeks later that it still tasted pretty fresh. The secret he realized was to freeze food fast. Luckily Birdseye already had the patent filed in September 1931 of a refrigeration apparatus. It was a double belted freezer that froze packaged foods at temperatures reaching 50 degrees below zero. Never the less Birdseye still struggled to get his business off the ground.
So, in 1929 he began to sell his patents. He sold most of them to what would become the General Foods Corporation for $22 Million dollars. Yes, there are many people that become millionaires by simply buying and selling patents. That equates to about $300 Million 2012 dollars if they were to be sold today. He remained with the company though and the following year he managed to convince General Foods Corporation to invest in the distribution of his Birds Eye line of frozen foods to hit the market.
The advertising slogan was, “Some freeze food, Birds Eye freezes flavor.” His line of frozen foods included 18 cuts of meat, spinach, peas and fruits also fish fillets and even blue point oysters. Skeptical of the new technology, the public did not immediately warm up to the idea of frozen foods. Caned carrots were just fine. People did not even trust their freezers in the house to do the job properly.
During World War II the industry got more interest when they were War Rationing foods. Canned goods became scarce, people were hoarding canned goods saving large amounts in their basements not knowing what the War would bring to their households. That opened the door to frozen foods wrapped in card board and covered in cellophane. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s frozen foods took off especially when TV Dinners were being sold and people actually ate the stuff on little TV fold out tables sitting in front of a TV.
Today frozen food is a multi billion dollar industry. I bet Mr. Birdseye would be proud to see the frozen food aisles in every supermarket. Pretty much anything you may desire is being sold down those aisles. Now with the invention of the microwave oven that I never had growing up, eating frozen foods are even easier. So, thanks Mr. Birdseye for making generations having more options with their food.

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